Todd and Diane’s Guide to Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Ultimate Winter Squash and Pumpkin Guide from Todd & Diane | @whiteonrice

We’re obsessed with winter squash and pumpkins. Maybe a little too obsessed because we keep scouring farmers markets and farms that are local and beyond to learn and discover new varieties. Our research started in 2014 during our ambitious attempt at creating a quarterly focused on individual ingredients. Though that never got finished, we haven’t given up! So keep checking back on our obsessed guide to winter squash and pumpkins because we want to be the kids who have eaten the most winter squash and pumpkins.

Basically all are known as squash, these hard-skinned winter squash include everything pumpkin and related. They’re grown in late Summer, early Fall, then harvested and can be stored for long periods, and then eaten during the Winter. Common winter squash such as butternut squash, spaghetti squash and acorn squash are culinary highlights to holiday menus, but what’s commonly known as “pumpkins” often barely make it past the jack-o-lantern or holiday-design stage.

Yes, pumpkins are as edible as any other common winter squash. Some pumpkin varieties are best left to carving, however many of them are flat out delicious.

Diane loves eating a delicious pumpkin that her mom stewed for an hour over the stove. What was this delicious pumpkin? It’s what was commonly seen on peoples porches as Autumn decor and often sold as markets called “cinderella pumpkin” or “fairy tale pumpkin”. But for those of us who know and eat this pumpkin well, it’s tan and more often called a cinderella then a fairy tale pumpkin, which is more orange skinned. We call it delicious castilla squash.

Whatever we or others call these gorgeous winter squash, they’re all edible and unique on their own with different levels of sweetness, flavor and texture. No need to argue. Let’s be on the lookout for all these amazing different varieties of winter squash and let’s eat them all!

So let’s get started on our obsession of what we’ve been able to find, cook and enjoy. Can’t wait to keep adding more to our guide! Let us know if there’s any unique and delicious varieties you’ve found.

Ultimate Winter Squash Guide and Pumpkin Guide from Todd and Diane | @whiteonrice

Common Name(s): Acorn Squash

Other names : Pepper Squash, Royal Acorn, Table King, Table Queen (aka ‘Des Moines’, ‘Danish’). There’s so many varieties and colors of acorn squash and here’s another good link.

Flavor and other notes: Acorn squashes are one of the most well known and popular of all hard winter squashes because they’re so easy to cook and eat! When you’re in a bind and want something quick to eat, you can easily microwave an acorn squash with some butter, brown sugar and maple syrup for a quick vegetable side dish. Cut it in half, stuff it with your favorite meat or grain fillings and voila! After baking it in the oven, a fabulous dinner is served. They’re mildly sweet and nutty flavor with edible skin and orange flesh. They seem to last for months in a cool area on the counter top.

Recipe ideas: Roasted Acorn squash with butter and brown sugar, Stuffed Acorn squash

Ultimate Winter Squash Guide and Pumpkin Guide from Todd and Diane | @whiteonrice

Common Name(s): Sweet Dumpling Squash

Other names: Dumpling Squash

Flavor and other notes: We found these little beauties at a farmers market in Montana and were super excited to find such fresh-off-the-vine sweet dumplings! Sweet, tender orange flesh. Edible skin. Easier to cut than an acorn squash. White and green stripes. Other similar looking varieties are Harlequin, Sweet Lightening and Heart of Gold but are slightly different in color. We’re on the hunt for those varieties!

Recipe ideas: Coming Soon

Winter Squash and Pumpkin Guide: Carnival Squash | @whiteonrioce

Winter Squash and Pumpkin Guide: Carnival Squash | @whiteonrioce

Common Name(s): Carnival Squash 

Other names: none that we know of yet

Flavor and other notes: When Mommy and Daddy Acorn and Sweet Dumpling squashes have babies, they’re called carnival squash. Ok, maybe not exactly like that but you get the idea. Technically speaking, carnivals are a hybrid between the Acorn and Sweet Dumpling SquashesTheir flavor is nutty and mildly sweet and flesh is like a sweet potato and butternut squash. The skin is tender and edible. Vibrant patterns of orange and green colors and stripes. We’ve heard of other similar varieties called Festival and Celebration, but are they the basically same thing? And climate and regional growing conditions just make then “look different”? But do these varieties actually taste different? Don’t know, we’re still trying to figure this one out.

Recipe ideas: Coming Soon

Buttercup Squash Winter Squash Varieties and Pumpkin Guide by Todd and Diane | @whiteonrice

Buttercup Squash Winter Squash Varieties and Pumpkin Guide by Todd and Diane | @whiteonrice

Common Name(s): Buttercup Squash

Other names: Bon Bon Squash

Flavor and other notes: Part of the turban squash family, this variety usually has Dark green skin with a light green to gray turban cap. We first discovered this variety in Montana during our fly fishing trip and were thrilled to find such a cute winter squash! When cut in half, their cross section definitely looks like a bon bon without the chocolate. More great info and other variations of the buttercup squash here. This is the variety that we discovered and ate.

Recipe ideas: Coming Soon

Turban Squash Winter Squash Varieties and Pumpkin Guide by Todd and Diane | @whiteonrice

Turban Squash Winter Squash Varieties and Pumpkin Guide by Todd and Diane | @whiteonrice

Common Name(s): Turban Squash

Other names: Turks Cap, Turks Turban, French Turban

Flavor and other notes: Part of the turban squash family, this one is large and has a top “turban” with multiple colors. They look almost fake because of their odd top and bottom shape, but it’s totally edible! It has a very mild flavor, but with some extra spices it can be super delicious. Think cumin, paprika and other potentially flavorful spices to add to this squash. It’s fantastic as a decorative centerpiece or fancy soup bowl. This heirloom dates back as early as the 1820’s. It’s an oldie but goodie! More info and history here.

Recipe ideas: Coming Soon

Ultimate Winter Squash and Pumpkin Guide from Todd & Diane | @whiteonrice

Ultimate Winter Squash and Pumpkin Guide from Todd & Diane | @whiteonrice

Common Name(s): Butternut Squash

Other names: 

Flavor and other notes: Sweet and nutty. Tan skin, orange flesh, hour-glass shape. You all probably know this squash already, if you don’t then you are definitely must be living in a cave. Just kidding! This is one of the sweetest and most tender winter squashes and honestly, you can most likely find it year round, everywhere. If you’re a fan of Thanksgiving dinner, you’ve most likely had it because it’s a popular potluck dish because it’s super delicious and easy to prepare with endless possibilities. Rumor has it that the longer you store butternut squash, the sweeter and nuttier the flavor becomes.

Recipe ideas: Coming Soon

Hard Winter Squash and Pumpkin Guide: Butternut Squash | @whiteonrice

Hard Winter Squash and Pumpkin Guide: Butternut Squash | @whiteonrice

Common Name(s): Tahitian Butternut 

Other names: Melon squash, Tahitian squash,

Flavor and other notes: One of the most common and popular winter squashes. Size is from big to gigantic. One of the sweetest winter squashes, with excellent flavor. Here’s more info and here they show the a lot of the different shape variations.

Ultimate Winter Squash and Pumpkin Guide from Todd & Diane | @whiteonrice

Ultimate Winter Squash and Pumpkin Guide from Todd & Diane | @whiteonrice

Common Name(s): Spaghetti Squash

Other names: Vegetable spaghetti, noodle squash, vegetable marrow, gold string melon

Flavor and other notes: When cooked separates into strands like spaghetti. Can be baked or microwaved and topped with sauce, cheese and meatballs to satisfy you when you’re craving pasta/spaghetti but without the carbs! Other varieties we’re on the lookout for is Stripetti, which is a cross between a Delicata and Spaghetti squash. We’ve also heard of the “small wonder” which is a smaller, personal sized version with outer skin that looks like an orange pumpkin.

Recipe ideas: Coming Soon

Chilacayote Squash is like Spaghetti Squash | @whiteonrice

Chilacayote Squash is like Spaghetti Squash | @whiteonrice

Common Name(s): Chilacayote 

Other names: Fig Leaf Gourd, Malabar Gourd, Seven Year Melon

Flavor and other notes:  It’s more of a Summer squash, but it’s cool looking, so we wanted to add it to our list. One of our local farmers grows it in fall and it stores really well like a winter squash. On the outside it looks like an oblong watermelon. But it’s a green-looking Spaghetti Squash that separates into strands just like common yellow spaghetti squash when cooked. The texture is watery and flavor is very zucchini-like. Depending on the maturity level of the fruit, the seeds will be black as the fruit is more mature. Ours was still young and thus, white seeds. It was our least favorite to eat plain, but maybe with some parmesan cheese and bolognese sauce, it just might top our culinary charts! More cool info here and here

Kabocha Squash Varieties: Ultimate Winter Squash and Pumpkin Guide from Todd & Diane | @whiteonrice

 

Kabocha Squash: Winter Squash and Pumpkin Guide from Todd & Diane | @whiteonrice

Common Name(s): Kabocha (Green)

Other names: Hoka, Hokkaido, Ebisu, Japanese Pumpkin or Delica 

Flavor and other notes: We love eating these family of squashes, but they’re firm and can be tough to cut. But when you get past the knife action, you’ll be in love with the taste. Just stab it and crack it and cook it up! Sweet and flesh is a little drier and denser than most squash. Skin is soft edible if cooked long enough. We’ve had delicious Japanese miso stewed kabocha with the skin-on.

Recipe ideas: Coming Soon

Blue Kuri Kabocha Squash: Winter Squash and Pumpkin Guide from Todd & Diane | @whiteonrice

Common Name(s): Blue Kuri

Other names: Blue hokkaido squash, Blue Kuri Kabocha,  Blue Kabocha

Flavor and other notes: 2-3 pounds, very similar to green kabocha but with blue hues. This was a little jewel we found at a farmers market in Missoula Montana and carried it all the way home. Now we’ll wait to eat it because it traveled so far.

Recipe ideas: Coming Soon

Orange Kabocha Squash: Winter Squash and Pumpkin Guide from Todd & Diane | @whiteonrice

Common Name(s): Orange/Red Kabocha or Ambercup Squash 

Other names: Sunshine Hybrid, Sunshine Kabocha Squash, Amber-Cup

Flavor and other notes: One of the best tasting Kabocha varieties, super sweet and delicious. Skin is totally edible and overall, a fantastic squash to eat. We’ve only been able to find these at farmers markets and when we do find them, we want to hoard them because they store for months in a cold fridge.  More info here and here.

Recipe ideas: Coming Soon

Ultimate Winter Squash Guide and Pumpkin Guide from Todd and Diane | @whiteonrice

Common Name(s): Red Kuri

Other names: Orange Hokkaido Squash, Japanese squash, Baby red hubbard, Uchini Kuri squash, Potimarron in France and Onion Squash in the UK.

Flavor and other notes: Shape is fig or tear-drop shaped.This is a smaller hubbard squash variety. Edible skin, chestnut like flavor, sweet and delicious. Has a pointy tip at one end. Some of the red kuri’s don’t have the signature tip, so we’re wondering if they were just picked too soon? Or maybe they’re actually an orange kabocha instead of a red kuri? We’re still investigating. Hmmm…..

Recipe ideas: Coming Soon

Ultimate Winter Squash Guide and Pumpkin Guide from Todd and Diane | @whiteonrice

Common Name(s): Gold Nugget 

Other names: Golden nugget squash, oriental pumpkin

Flavor and other notes: We LOVE this pumpkin and even have a roasted recipe in our Bountiful Cookbook. We are always amazed at how tender the skin and flesh are. The flavor is fantastic and it’s the perfect size for stuffing too. This is one of those squashes that you definitely want to eat the whole thing. More info here. 

Winter Squash Varieties and Pumpkin Guide by Todd and Diane | @whiteonrice

Common Name(s):  Blue Ballet

Other names: Blue Ballet

Flavor and other notes: It’s a smaller version of a blue hubbard, but with smoother skin. Big hubbards commonly have tough, bumpy grey-blue skin. Both shapes are tear-dropish . They’re chunky, clunky looking but always a favorite. We can’t wait to get our hands on another true hubbard this season because they’re so “ugly-cute” and last forever in a cool dry spot in the house. More info here on blue ballet squash.

Recipe ideas: Coming Soon

Winter Squash and Pumpkin Guide: Delicata Squash | @whiteonrioce

Common Name(s): Delicata 

Other names: Peanut squash, bohemian squash or sweet potato squash

Flavor and other notes: Skin is super tender when baked and perfect for stuffing. It’s definitely one of our favorite squashes because of the flavor and also it’s thinner skinned and easy to cut. Try stuffing it with meat, quinoa or any other grains with cheese. It’s fantastic! There’s many color variations and sizes to delicata squash. And we have a stuffed delicata rings recipe in our Bountiful cookbook. (shameless self promotion)

Recipe ideas: Coming Soon

Winter Squash and Pumpkin Guide : Banana Squash | @whiteonrice

Common Name(s): Banana Squash

Other names: Jumbo pink banana squash

Flavor and other notes: Long and large, often sold in pieces with different color varieties. Can weigh 10-40 pounds! For such a huge squash, it has few and small seeds. There’s many different cultivars, including pink, blue, hybrid/rainbow varieties. One average banana squash probably feeds 50. Great info and growing guide here.

Recipe ideas: Coming Soon

Ultimate Winter Squash Guide and Pumpkin Guide from Todd and Diane | @whiteonrice

Ultimate Winter Squash Guide and Pumpkin Guide from Todd and Diane | @whiteonrice

Common Name(s): Sparkler Pumpkin 

Other names: none that we were able to find

Flavor and other notes: Small, decorative looking, but definitely edible with a sweet pumpkin flavor. The long stem definitely makes them unique looking and easy to pick out in a crowd of mini pumpkins. Use them just like you would the tiger stripe pumpkins. More info here.

Recipe ideas: Coming Soon

Ultimate Winter Squash Guide and Pumpkin Guide from Todd and Diane | @whiteonrice

Common Name(s): Tiger Stripe

Other names: Mini tiger stripe pumpkins

Flavor and other notes: Most commonly found as decorative centerpieces. It contains little flesh, but it’s edible and perfect as a soup bowl or stuffed and baked. Even if you don’t eat the whole thing, they’re perfect for table-top food displays and vessels for dips and soups.

Recipe ideas: Coming Soon

Ultimate Winter Squash Guide and Pumpkin Guide from Todd and Diane | @whiteonrice

Common Name(s): Sugar Pumpkin 

Other names: Sugar Baby, Sugar Pie, Pie pumpkins

Flavor and other notes: There’s many different varieties and different names, but overall, the flesh and sweet and commonly used for pumpkin pies for their superb flavor and texture. You’ll be able to spot them right away because they’re much smaller than the traditional Jack-O-Lantern pumpkin but they’re definitely tastier!

Recipe ideas: Coming Soon

Ultimate Winter Squash Guide and Pumpkin Guide from Todd and Diane | @whiteonrice

Common Name(s): Flat white boer pumpkin 

Other names: Flat White boer ford

Flavor and other notes: Bright orange flesh interior, aromatic and sugary. They’re subtle and elegant and perfect for carving, then eating. One of these years we want to go all-out and line the whole front of our house with these gorgeous specimens. More info here.

Recipe ideas: Coming Soon

Winter Squash and Pumpkin Guide | Fairy Tale Pumpkin Squash @whiteonrice

Winter Squash and Pumpkin Guide | Fairy Tale Pumpkin Squash @whiteonrice

Common Name(s): Fairytale Pumpkin 

Other names: Castilla

Flavor and other notes: Seriously, this is probably one of our favorite pumpkins to cook because not only is it easy to find in our markets during the Fall season, but they’re sweet and delicious! Many of these varieties like Dickinson, Chelsea and Kentucky are used to make canned pumpkin puree because their flavor is fabulous. Some say this variety and the long island cheese pumpkin truly makes the best pumpkin pie. We believe them and are total fans of making this one of our top-eating pumpkins!

Recipe ideas: Coming Soon

Common Name(s): Cinderella 

Other names: Rouge vif d’Etampes

Flavor and other notes: Gorgeous French heirloom with Glowing orange/reddish outside and large pumpkin that is a show stopping color for fall decor.  It’s round and squat and looks like the Cinderellas coach in the fairy tale story. And it’s definitely edible! Don’t be fooled by it’s beauty. Cinderella pumpkins are super popular for decorating, but when you’re hungry, just know it’s a delicious dinner option. More info here and here. 

Recipe ideas: Coming Soon

Winter Squash and Pumpkin Guide | Peanut Shell Squash Galeux D'Eysines @whiteonrice

Winter Squash and Pumpkin Guide | Peanut Shell Squash Galeux D'Eysines @whiteonrice

Common Name(s): Peanut-Shell squash 

Other names: Galeux D’Eysines Squash

Flavor and other notes: This French heirloom might look odd with it’s bumpy outside “peanut-shell” covering, but it’s delicious! The peanut shell looking warts are cause by sugar in the skin. Sweet, great for baking and desserts. They’re definitely stunning in their own way and if we had more backyard space, we’d love to try to grow it and have tons of these for cooking and sharing. More info here. 

Recipe ideas: Coming Soon

Ultimate Winter Squash and Pumpkin Guide from Todd & Diane | @whiteonrice

Ultimate Winter Squash and Pumpkin Guide from Todd & Diane | @whiteonrice

 

Common Name(s): Knuckle Head Pumpkins

Other names: Warty Goblin (orange pumpkin pictured here with the green warts), Red Warty Thing (red pumpkin pictured here with red warts)

Flavor and other notes: They might look scary and warty, perfect for spooky Halloween, but their value goes into the culinary realm. Generally, any pumpkin with warts or knobby rough skin are called “knuckleheads” at markets. We’ve had these pumpkins for a few weeks at our studio and everyone who passes by them think they’re the most cool looking species ever. They have their own fan base now and it’s hard for us to eat them just yet. More info here and here.

Recipe ideas: Coming Soon

Ultimate Winter Squash and Pumpkin Guide from Todd & Diane | @whiteonrice

Winter Squash Varieties and Pumpkin Guide by Todd and Diane | @whiteonrice

Winter Squash Varieties and Pumpkin Guide by Todd and Diane | @whiteonrice

Common Name(s): Marina di Chioggia

Other names: Sea Pumpkin

Flavor and other notes: Don’t judge this squash by it’s cover. Named after the italian coastal town of Chioggia, just south of Venice, they’re a show stopper. Italians love to cook it for gnocchi and ravioli and also love grilling them because of their rich and superb flavor! Colors range from rich dark gray-green with gorgeous deep ridges. Make sure to flip to look at it’s underside and you’ll see that it’s truly in the turban family of pumpkins. Sure, they’re bumpy, rough, squat and funny looking but they’re beautiful in our eyes and definitely one of our favorite to have on the countertop. More info here.

Recipe ideas: Coming Soon

Jarrahdale Pumpkin Turban Squash Winter Squash Varieties and Pumpkin Guide by Todd and Diane | @whiteonrice

Jarrahdale Pumpkin Turban Squash Winter Squash Varieties and Pumpkin Guide by Todd and Diane | @whiteonrice

Common Name(s): Jarrahdale 

Other names: Blue pumpkins, Gray Pumpkins

Flavor and other notes: Super cool looking with grey/blue coloring and it’s delicious. They’re an heirloom originating from Australia and even across the world, they’re one of the most popular for design and decorative purposes. But definitely give them a taste and you’ll be wowed by their sweet flavor and awesome texture! Go ahead and cut a wedge out of this beauty and you’ll see why it’s delicious. Want to grow these blue beauties? More info here. 

Recipe ideas: Coming Soon

Winter Squash and Pumpkin Guide | Speckled Hound Squash @whiteonrice

Winter Squash and Pumpkin Guide | Speckled Hound Squash @whiteonrice

Common Name(s): Speckled Hound  

Other names: None that we know of yet

Flavor and other notes: These beauties are just stunning! Texture is a little drier, but still sweet and delicious. It has a cute stem that is depressed into the squash. Texture is similar to a butternut squash. If you want to grow this beauty, here’s some info here.

Recipe ideas: Speckled Hound Squash Coconut Soup

We really enjoyed researching and photographing this guide. The fun hasn’t ended because we’re going to keep adding new winter squash as they come into our kitchen. Let us know if you’ve come across any other interesting varieties. Coming up next, our sweet potato guide! Stay tuned…

-Todd and Diane

All images here are works of Todd Porter and Diane Cu-Porter and are protected by copyright law. Please do not use, distribute, reproduce, sell, re-purpose or take these images. 

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Ultimate Winter Squash and Pumpkin Guide | @whiteonrice

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }
  1. betty

    There is a new variety of butternut squash that I have grown 2 years ago and am so impressed with it that I will grow it again in 2017. It is a baby butternut that has the skin of a butternut but the texture or flesh of a kabocha. I like the dense, sweet flavour profile of kabocha so this HONEY NUT baby butternut is a must try!!!

    In addition, it is a high yielder. I planted 2 vines and yielded 17 fruits!!!!!

    Another variety of kabocha I will plant next year are 3 baby kabochas…one is called Speckled Pup and in the same category of baby kabocha are a green and gray one from Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

  2. amy

    Why on earth isn’t this in book format? I want these photos, along with description and recipes, to peruse, drool over and cook from at my fingertips -anywhere in the house. Sit in the kitchen with a cup of coffee, read in bed, plan with in my office, even take with me in the car on road trips to noodle on menus….

    The photos alone are stunning. Please, please, please do a book!

  3. Jessica Kelley

    Okay, this is absolutely incredible! I never would have thought to eat some of these. I guess I have always considered them decor or possibly not tasting sweet and delicious. Another fine example of how looks can be deceiving. I’m definitely going to pick up a couple new-to-me squashes next time I’m at the market. Thanks for broadening my horizon. Keep up the amazing work!

  4. Veronica Cannon

    Beautiful photo’s! I’ve always been afraid of most of these, but will try them now. Thanks!

  5. Elise Bauer

    This post is a treasure, thank you Todd and Diane! I always wondered about some of these varieties, thank you for your thoughtful explanations and beautiful photographs.

  6. Celia

    Thanks so much for the informative guide and great photos!

  7. Kim pawell

    Wow Diane! I love this. Amazing job.

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